Matt Wisler decided to skip the hallowed halls of higher learning for pro baseball -- but he still gets an education from time to time.
The San Antonio right-hander was promoted from the Class A California League last month and has shown flashes of the talent that led San Diego to draft him out of high school, but admitted he's learned some lessons the hard way.
"The Cal League had pretty good hitters, but these guys are the best hitters I've seen in my life," said Wisler, who signed with San Diego instead of attending Ohio State after the Padres took him in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft. "These guys hit mistake pitches a lot better. They even hit good pitches a lot better."
Wisler figured that out quickly in his first Double-A start May 12, when Midland's Anthony Aliotti belted a two-run homer with one out in the first inning.
"[Aliotti] is the best hitter I've seen, definitely," Wisler said. "He can rake."
Not that Wisler, ranked by MLB.com as San Diego's No. 8 prospect entering the season, feels overmatched by Double-A hitters. But his results so far have been mixed.
He got the victory in his five-inning Texas League debut, then suffered a five-run first in his next start against Frisco and lost as his ERA ballooned to 8.00.
He bounced back and threw seven scoreless frames against Arkansas, striking out three without walking a batter to improve to 2-1. But in his last start May 28, the same Arkansas bunch got to Wisler for five runs -- four earned -- as Taylor Lindsey led off a five-run sixth inning with a homer. The loss raised his ERA to 5.14 with four home runs allowed.
Last year at Class A Fort Wayne, Wisler yielded just one homer in 114 innings to lead all Minor Leaguers. He finished with a 2.53 ERA and 5-4 record in 23 appearances, and was 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA with one home run allowed at Lake Elsinore to start 2013.
"I think it's elevation for now," said Wisler, who thrived last season by keeping the ball low in the zone. "The last couple outings I've been getting the ball down."
He has a fastball that tops out at 96 mph, a curve, changeup and slider that have all been effective, though they are in different stages of development. But seeing things he's never seen before, like left-handers turning on inside fastballs, has led Wisler to understand that further adjustments are in order.
"I've never really had that, so I've got to adjust and get a little bit lower down, and in or up and in instead of belt high," he said.
Wisler, a product of Bryan (Ohio) High School, seriously considered Ohio State, but a number of factors -- not the least of which was his itch to get his pro career started -- led him to accept San Diego's $500,000 bonus.
"It was definitely a hard decision," Wisler said. "I talked to my scouts and different coaches, and they said the best way for a pitcher to go is just get out early and just get used to the wood bats, get used to pitching the pro style, pitching every fifth day, and I definitely think it was the right decision."
That's hospitality: The Frisco RoughRiders welcomed temporary teammate and Texas Rangers starter Alexi Ogando with home runs by six different players Friday. Ogando was with Frisco on a rehab start, and Joe Benson, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ryan Strausborger, Odubel Herrera, Teodoro Martinez and Mike Olt each supported the right-hander with homers in the 7-4 victory over Tulsa.
More rehab: St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.62 ERA) is scheduled to make a rehab start with Springfield when the Cards play host to the Arkansas Travelers at Hammons Field on Tuesday.
Double vision: Thanks to Saturdays' rainout, the Arkansas Travelers played their fifth doubleheader, most in the league, against Corpus Christi on Sunday afternoon. Arkansas has a sixth doubleheader scheduled during its next homestand that begins June 12.